Best Networking Tips for the Holiday Season
As the days get shorter and the parade of holidays (and of course, holiday parties) comes closer, the pace of real estate sales slows down. Most people understandably do not want to deal with buying or selling a house during the holiday season. While some agents may feel frustrated, bored or stressed by inertia, this time of year actually represents a prime opportunity for real estate agents to build their business by networking.
This year, use the holidays as a time to “give thanks and give back.” Let your customers know that you are thankful for their business and work to make those relationships last. Here are 6 networking tips to call on this holiday season.
1. RSVP Yes
Most of the holiday events that you get invited to will have a room filled with potentially valuable connections. With each invitation, consider who the other attendees are and if those relationships could be useful. Why not use office parties and industry events as a way to build your professional network? Why not treat neighborhood and school events as a way to make inroads into a community? Holiday parties are also a time to strengthen existing relationships with clients, associates, partners, business acquaintances and more. You never know who you might run into.
2. Go Prepared
Small talk is inevitable at holiday parties, but you can use it to your advantage. People are there to have fun and enjoy themselves, not to be sold to. You want to have conversational topics ready that are not directly related to business (but not mundane either), as well as a supply of interesting answers to standard questions. If someone asks, “How are you?” saying something other than “fine” can go a long way.
Strive to get to know people on a personal level, find common ground, and ask questions, because that is how relationships are built. That information may also come in handy if they become a client or partner down the road. However, when the question of “what do you do?” inevitably comes up, you want to have a quick, clear introduction ready, as well as business cards should your companion ask. In addition, create a list of guests that you’d like to be introduced to, and consider who in your existing network could make that introduction.
3. Look The Part
Even if a holiday party is not explicitly for business purposes, it’s important to dress appropriately. Read the invitations carefully, because being overdressed or underdressed can cause you to stand out, and not in a good way. It can be disrespectful to the host and give the impression of bad manners.
Regardless of the dress code, always look professional. If you are planning on going to more than one event in a night, with different dress codes, take the time to pick outfits that transition easily and/or bring a backup jacket or pair of shoes in your bag. In the same vein, feel free to indulge in food and drink (it is a party after all), but practice moderation. Your behavior, even in a festive atmosphere, still reflects back on your reputation.
After the party is over, remember take the time to send thoughtful follow-ups to people you met. Failing to follow up could mean that a connection made at the party fades into the ether. A follow up helps set the foundation for an ongoing relationship. In these messages (or calls), it can be helpful to remind the recipient who you are, especially if it was a big party where a lot of contact information was exchanged. Also include something that pushes the relationship forward, whether that means setting up a time to get coffee, sending a link to an article you discussed, or asking a question.
5. Throw Your Own Party
Many of these same rules apply when you throw your own party, rather than attending someone else’s. You still want to be a good conversationalist, dress appropriately, and follow-up. However, hosting your own party comes with a slew of other considerations as well.
Pick the date as early as possible and send out invitations, because the holiday season is a busy time and people’s calendars fill up fast. It’s also important to carefully consider what type of party you want to throw. How many guests? Are you inviting all clients or your top ones? Where will the party be? What is the dress code? Can people bring their families?
It can also be a good idea to think creatively about the event. With so many invitations, people will be picking and choosing which to attend, so try to make yours an appealing offer. In addition, create a clearly outlined plan for execution. Organization is key to throwing a party that goes off without a hitch, and a badly planned party can reflect poorly on your organization.
6. Take Advantage of Technology
Networking like a champ over the holiday season means that you will probably have a hefty number of new contacts. Use technology to take full advantage of these fledgling relationships. Real estate agents can use CRM software to build solid relationships with prospects through communication tools and operating efficiencies. A CRM simplifies the process of documenting new connections and staying in touch. You can also re-engage with your audience by sending holiday messages through Chime.
This holiday season, embrace the holiday spirit wholeheartedly and take advantage of holiday cheer to set yourself up well for 2017.
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Ricky Fernandez has over 15 years of real estate industry and mortgage banking experience with a focus on bringing technology solutions to the real estate industry. He has a passion for helping SaaS systems accelerate, automate and strives to help his clients work towards greater productivity and performance.